Having a personal brand is something that should be taken seriously. If you have an audience and a brand built around your ideas, then you will be provided with more opportunities.
Just last night, I received a phone call from a potential Stodzy client. One of the first things they said to me is “I have been reading your blog, I really like what you stand for, you have an inspiring story.”
I’m grateful for the compliment, but it also serves me in a practical sense. People like to do business with people they like and trust. Sharing your story with others is a great relationships building tool. It works.
So having a well established personal brand has value. We know that. But it’s not always that cut and dry.
Yesterday morning, I was getting coffee with a friend of mine…
My friend’s name is Darrel. Darrell is a partner in a design and development agency called Authentik. Authentik just launched a rebuild of Smart Passive Income which is an extremely popular blog, podcast and website by Pat Flynn.
The conversation came up on whether it makes more sense to present your personal brand as your own name or to create a company name. In other words, does it make sense to be PatFlynn.com or does it make more sense to be SmartPassiveIncome.com?
This is something that a lot of people struggle with when they decide to start building an online business for themselves. What is the best option?
I have some thoughts that could be helpful…
The first thing you should do is decide if your personal brand is going to be specific. Is your brand and your business going to be about one thing? For instance, Smart Passive Income is a site that is completely dedicated to helping people build online businesses, mostly through podcasting and email marketing.
That’s great. The name “Smart Passive Income” tells a story within itself. His entire brand is focused on a specific set of ideas.
Which brings me to the other option. If you want to build a brand around your name, I would recommend not cornering yourself into a specific set of ideas. When the brand is you, it is difficult to define you because you are a person and you are complicated.
I’ve seen this happen many times. Let’s imagine you build a freelancing business on web design. You build your brand on johnsmith.com. What happens when you want to write a blog post about wall murals that you loved when you took a trip to Philadelphia? Do you put that on johsmith.com? It doesn’t really fit the messaging of web design, does it?
My own personal brand is a perfect example of this.
For instance, when you read my blog or listen to my podcasts, what do you think my brand is? What is my underlying message?
I am a lot of different things. I am a guy who talks about sobriety and advocates for addiction treatment. I am also into esports and playing StarCraft. I am also a fitness enthusiast. I am also an entrepreneur and a believer in capitalism. I’m left centrist in my political views. I’ve been a birdwatcher since I was a little kid. I’m an obsessive Eagles fan. I love pit bulls, gangster rap, Lake Street Dive, birds, tacos, writing, poetry, podcasts, cold showers, Philadelphia, tattoos, my family and my super hot wife.
So what am I? What is my brand?
This is important to think about before you get started. What I have seen happen is people build personal brands and businesses around their names and then they limit themselves to the things they want to talk about.
When your brand is your name, you lose the advantage of specificity but you gain the advantage of flexibility.
I think of a great example of this is Marie Forleo. Sure, her brand tailors around certain ideas, but she touches on a little bit of everything. She is her own brand because her interviews cover a range of topics and people. She speaks with authors, businesswomen (and men), thinkers, health advocates and more.
She has the flexibility to do that because she is her own brand.
So what’s the right choice?
Before you get started, decide on what you want your brand to be about. If you want to monetize a personal brand around something specific like fitness or finances or landscaping, then I would recommend naming your brand as a company name.
If you want to create a brand around your own views and ideas and opinions, I would recommend naming your brand after your own name.
But pick one.